Swans to sink Arsenal challenge
Swansea warrant a bet ahead of their FA Cup trip to Arsenal on Wednesday night according to our Ben Coley.
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Swansea are well on their way to the Capital One Cup final thanks to a win in London, and they're worth backing to repeat the trick at Arsenal on Wednesday.
The Gunners suffered a torrid Sunday with an early sending-off leaving them chasing Manchester City shadows for a good hour, and although they rallied admirably at full-time defeat was tough to swallow.
"It's frustrating because the team afterwards showed great heart, gave everything and showed great desire, but we're a bit too nervous to play in a serene way at home and that shows in the way we start the games," Arsene Wenger told the club's official website, and it's close to impossible to justify backing Arsenal at 1/2 against anyone.
Certainly, they can't be strongly fancied to take care of a side as strong as Swansea.
Michael Laudrup has done a fine job since arriving in the summer and his side's 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday represented yet another step in the right direction, in a fixture that's seen them struggle recently.
That hasn't been the case against Arsenal.
Last term, only a Michel Vorm error cost the Swans a result at the Emirates Stadium but they got revenge earlier this season when Michu fired them to a comfortable 2-0 win in the league.
Throw in a Premier League victory at the Liberty Stadium and the 2-2 draw that set up this FA Cup replay, and that's three wins and a draw in four games with Arsenal.
Why then are they 6/1?
The obvious answer to that is that they're considered stronger at home, but while that was the case last season they've managed 15 points both home and away this time around.
Perhaps bookmakers are concerned that Laudrup made one or two changes for the first game, with Michu starting on the bench, but those named still outperformed Arsenal for large portions of the game and as they've a week until their Capital One Cup semi-final a stronger side could well be named.
Whatever the case, Swansea are the clear value. They're unbeaten in six games, including against Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United, and their price is an insult to the fine work being done by Laudrup and his talented squad.
In the night's other tie, it's hard not to feel that West Ham have missed their chance to eliminate Manchester United.
The first game was a classic FA Cup tie, with the host underdogs having a right old go at United and capitalising on their weakness defending set-pieces.
But one moment of magic from Robin van Persie leaves United as 1/7 shots to make the next round, and that's hard to argue with.
However, with a trip to Spurs coming on Sunday and their priorities very much elsewhere, it's reasonable to expect a weaker side with strength in reserve on the bench.
With that in mind, United to win by a goal is the call at a shade bigger than 3/1 with Ladbrokes.
Even in terms of bare facts, the case is strong. United have won 23 times in all competitions this year, and 15 of them have been by exactly a goal.
When you consider that was also the case when the Hammers last visited Old Trafford earlier this season, and that half of West Ham's defeats this term have been by a goal, it looks very solid indeed.
The chief concern is that goals have been hard to come by on the road for Sam Allardyce's side of late, but with a make-shift United side almost certain I reckon the visitors can keep in touch.